Life After

It's been almost a year and a half since Bea died. As is usual in anyone's life a lot has happened. Lewis had his first and last day of kindergarten. We went to Disney again. I went to China for work and am preparing to go again. I started selling at art and craft markets. Chris is doing well in his job. We both play a lot of tennis. Lewis is learning how to swim.

I still wake up every morning and think about her. She's my last thought before I go to sleep.

My habits have changed. I think that's what most people call "moving forward". I call it "changing habits". I don't feel her in my house anymore. I don't need to buy 2 of everything or make 2 lunch sandwiches anymore. I don't go into her room to see if it's tidy. I don't go through the Justice mailers I get to see if there's anything cute on sale. Chris and I take turns reading to Lewis at bedtime instead of each of us getting one child. These are things I don't consciously think about anymore.

But those are just habits that have changed. I still miss her as much as I did the minute she died. Grief when you lose a child is so very different and so much more difficult than any other kind of grief. Even when you continue to live your life and enjoy the good things you don't move on as such. My habits may have changed but my desire for Bea to be with us is still as strong as ever.

My grief is still so very close to the surface. I never needed to spend the day or days or weeks in bed crying. I think I'm too manic to be like that, not that there's anything wrong if that's what you do. I just can't sit still when I'm awake. That's not because of grief. That's been since I was born. And it's probably what has kept me doing things. That and a sense of purpose. My purpose is to keep myself healthy so that I can take care of Lewis and so that my marriage is OK.

I want to feel like I used to but I know that's not possible. I used to be so blissfully happy with the two best kids in the world and a great marriage. Life was a joy and it was just so easy. I was almost smug because my kids were well behaved and smart and fun and were bound for great things. I knew they could be anything they wanted. But one of them didn't make it that far. That thought just tears me up. She could have been the best. At anything. I cannot put into words how amazing she was. Weeks before she was born I had a talk with her in her room asking her who she was going to be. I was so excited to meet her and find out. And for 5 years she was everything I thought she'd be and more.

She was gipped. Cancer stole everything from her. I grieve so heavily for her, for all that she lost. I know that a little part of the story is about me but I am just so sad that she didn't get to live the amazing life she deserved. I wanted her to have everything.

Losing her has impacted me in so many ways. Today I don't feel things very strongly. I enjoy moments but my passion for things isn't there. If I play a tennis match and lose because I didn't play well I don't really care. My artwork has become cliché and decorative. I watch way too much TV and don't read much anymore. I know that I'm depressed but I won't go to therapy because I feel like I'm handling it and that the sadness isn't keeping me from doing what I want. At least I want to do things. But maybe I'm not handling it. Maybe I'm living like a functioning alcoholic. A functioning griever.

If you are like me and lost a child to DIPG or brain cancer or for any other reason then you may understand. You are the only ones who can, really. There is no comparable loss. It's confusing, depressing, infuriating, unhappy, desperate... There is no happy ending. No silver lining. No changing what you can't change.

BUT, you have to learn to live with it. And I am. Even with all of this I am so grateful that I had Bea. I wouldn't trade knowing her for anything. The grief is just a consequence of loving her so very much. And how can love ever be a bad thing? Love is what makes me strong and it's what gets me through each day. Just because she isn't here doesn't mean I can't love her anymore. It's hard to love someone when you can't do loving things for them. I don't mean that the love doesn't come easily. It just comes with strings attached. When you feel that love the grief is there, too. So, to feel that love I have to be open to the sadness, too.

So I continue to love...